Daily   Dying   Meditation

If you're not at a point of naturally dying each moment or being fully awake in the present, then perhaps some sort of "daily dying" exercise might be useful. This practice is not to hasten death or ignore the astonishing wonders of life, but simply to recognize that what's generally called as "life" also contains "death". Moreover, too many people are a bit too rigid about their notions of what reality is: dying is a way of loosening up and realizing all things are transient. Even our notions of death evolve over time.

Sometime each day when there's no need to focus on other matters, close your eyes and "erase" your body. If it seems difficult to do with a thought, then wipe it away section-by-section. Begin with the legs and imagine that they're gone: what seemed like body tissue will become hollowness. After your legs have vanished, erase the torso and arms: let them disappear into space. After everything below the neck is gone, eliminate head until all traces of "your" physical body vanish. Realizing that our physical sheaths come from nothingness and inevitably return to nothingness might make this process easier.

After the body is gone, notice whether thoughts exist. If something like a thought does arise, will it to oblivion. A dead person has no need of thought. With this realization, mental activity will diminish naturally. Experience what it's like to be thoughtless. . . . a curious sense of stillness might ensue. Remember we are not our thoughts – there're just energy flows and let them pass . . .

After being thoughtless for a while, ascertain whether anything else that needs to be eliminated. You might notice some subtle feelings. A gentle, but firm determination to let go of anything seeming to define you helps. Most people tend to identify with their feelings so closely. At least once a day, it's good to experience a state that's both thoughtless and feelingless. By the way, it is also fearless.

After being in (or near) this condition for a while, focus on the breath. What do you notice with the breath? How much conscious intention is there? At this point notice the vehicle of the body. What's it here for?

At this point become aware of the environment. How does the body fit in the environment? Before completing this, make sure everything is reconnected . . . then be aware how the parts also disconnect. If you wish to live, choose the connection.

Daily dying is really about living, not death. The process is an exercise to notice how death and life intermingle. Being aware of death can help us to live more keenly and completely in the present, appreciating the tiny things that often go unnoticed each day.